Expect to see jet planes over Waipā skies.
Waikato Regional Airport Ltd, which operates Hamilton Airport on behalf of five local authorities including Waipā district, has revealed plans to develop a new corporate jet precinct to cater for demand from Auckland.
The jets are likely to be smaller and of the corporate variety rather than any huge Dreamliners or Airbuses.
Later this year the airport will also develop a new helicopter servicing base at its southern end, the Jet Park Hotel will reopen to the public after a refurbishment and a $15 million terminal upgrade is near completion.
“We’ve sold a number of properties on Titanium Park and we’ve had quite a bit of interest for corporate jet operators to relocate out of Auckland,” the airport’s Finance general manager Scott Kendall told Waipā District Council’s Finance and Corporate committee this week.
Waipā owns 15.625 per cent of the airport company which declared a net surplus after tax of $1.4 million for last year, 35 per cent up on the previous year.
Shareholder funds grew 39 per cent by $42.1 million to $148.9 million.
Passenger numbers were down 13 per cent but July and December recorded record travel months which spoke volumes for the airport’s strengths, the company said.
Part of the financial result was due to Jet Park Hotel’s performance. It had been a managed isolation facility for the government and would continue to be a community isolation and quarantine facility until the end of June.
After that, the hotel would have a “spruce up” with new furnishings and beds and be back on the accommodation market in September/October, said Kendall.
Revenue for the hotel was up $400,000.
The company has not paid dividends to its council shareholders – Waipā, Hamilton, Matamata-Piako, Waikato and Ōtorohanga – since Covid hit in 2020.
The company would review whether it needed to increase the airport’s runway length from 2195m to 3000m given the changes in the industry since Covid hit.
The world had changed and the need for longer runways was not as essential, Kendall said. The largest aircraft which could land at Hamilton is the 150-250 seat Boeing 767.
Permission for an extension was granted in 2011 for 15 years to attract larger aircraft to the airport for Asian routes.
Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk, who called it ‘our Waipā airport’ because it is in the district’s boundaries, said everyone was proud of the company for its ability to diversify.
She asked whether there was any likelihood of more domestic competition to Air New Zealand.
Chief executive Mark Morgan said that was unlikely as regional competition was challenging.
“I see regional airlines such as Origin, Sunair, Sounds Air and Air Chathams will provide services to certain locations but I do not forsee a major competitor on regional routes. There just isn’t the population base to make it profitable.”
Hamilton Airport opened at Rukuhia, 14 kilometres south of Hamilton, in 1935.